A reporter recently interviewed me about the Art and Science of Delegation. Thought you’d enjoy my comments as well.
Why don’t entrepreneurs and small business owners delegate?
Lots of reasons and they all seem logical at the time:
- No one can do it better, faster, cheaper or smarter than you can. So, why bother delegating?
- It takes more time to delegate the task than to do it yourself.
- If you want it done right or right now, then do it yourself.
- No one to delegate to – you don’t have competent people or those you can trust enough.
- You don’t want to give up power or authority.
- You like doing the task – it’s fun, or at least enjoyable. Makes you feed good and compensates a little for all the things you have to do that you don’t like.
- A major reason that most people won’t admit – you don’t know how to delegate.
So, why should you delegate more often?
- If you spend too much time working in your businesses, you can’t be spending enough time working on your businesses. And that’s where real innovation, growth and improvements come from.
- If you’re doing too much, you’re too involved in the daily operations and the business can’t survive without you. Therefore, you can’t sell it or leave it to your kids.
- Owners can’t do everything equally well. You should spend most of your time on the most important tasks of running the business, like visioning, planning, customer relationship building and being the face of the business. The other tasks can and should be delegated in part or in whole.
- Delegation is a great way to develop skills on your bench and give junior level staff a change of pace and focus. And some of them will likely do the task better than you could anyway.
Best Practices to make delegating work
- Stop using the excuses in #1 and embrace the wisdom and reality of the reasons in #2.
- Commit to making task analysis, process improvements and delegation all critical strategies for your organization.
- ‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure’, asserted management guru Peter Drucker years ago. So, consider time a rare and valuable resource and measure how well you use it.
- Have each key manager log his or her time use in 15-minute increments over different days in different weeks. List incoming calls, texts or emails separately. Then analyze the results.
- Embrace Process Mapping – identify major processes critical for the operation of the office/business and have each person involved in that process map it or list step by step how he or she does it.
- Share the maps in a group meeting, merge the various steps and create a composite best practice procedure for that process. Document it, create job aids for training new people on it and evaluate performance effectiveness and efficiency against the procedure.
- Learn about the ‘Urgent/Important’ matrix where each task is evaluated according to how urgent and important it is. Low urgent/important tasks are potential for eliminating or delegating. High urgent/important tasks deserve more emphasis.
- Another method is to assign an arbitrary value for your time – a high dollar/hour amount. Then, create three groups of tasks: 1. Those for which your are paid too much – a high probability for dumping or delegating. 2. Those for which your are paid fairly – keep doing them. 3. And most importantly, those tasks for which you are not paid enough. These represent your best and highest use, so spend more time and effort on them, the result of delegating or dumping the lower value items.
- You get what you ask for and model, so start small and simple by effectively delegating to your subordinate staff.
- Teach them how to do it right. If you don’t know how, hire a specialized consultant who can help you.
- You get what you reward, so make effective delegation part of their written performance objectives and include factors effecting their salary increases.
As you’ve seen, effective delegation is both an art and a science. Properly done, it generates significant value for your team, your organization and yourself. And don’t tell me it won’t work … until you can tell me it didn’t work.